Summit Racing Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson picked a perfect place and time to deliver a crucial and impressive Pro Stock victory….
Ohio’s fabulous Summit Motorsports Park hosted yet another rousing version of the mid-summer Summit Racing Equipment Nationals and team driver Greg Anderson delivered big time for his team’s and the event sponsor – Summit Racing Equipment.
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel) Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also raced to victories at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event west of Cleveland.
On Sunday at Summit Motorsports Park, Greg Anderson accomplished exactly what he set out to do when he scored the victory at the 9th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk. Anderson, powering the red Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro, earned the 78th national event trophy of his career with a final-round defeat of Drew Skillman. It was the third win for Anderson in Norwalk and the fourth of the season for the driver who took over the points lead following the second round of eliminations at his sponsor’s event.
“We came here with high hopes, and we wanted to do so good in front of the Summit Racing folks,” said Anderson. The Summit Racing Equipment headquarters are not too far from the Norwalk facility and are located in Tallmadge. “So it was a pretty good day at the office today. You put a lot of pressure on yourself, but we love that pressure. We went through qualifying and just didn’t feel like we had done a good job, but we knew we had to rebound and put our heads together overnight, and we got it right today.”
Anderson, starting from the No. 7 position, beat Allen Johnson in the first round on Sunday with a 6.553-second pass at 211.76 mph to AJ’s 6.592, 210.47. The margin of victory was a slim .012-second, and the speedy time was second quickest of the round, behind only Summit Racing teammate Jason Line. Notably, Anderson’s win light came on in in his 900th round of racing, and only 11 drivers have contested 900 rounds or more in NHRA competition.
The round win sent the four-time NHRA Pro Stock champion to the second stanza in Norwalk, where he recorded low elapsed time of the round, 6.575, 211.46, to put Jonathan Gray and his 6.620, 210.11 on the trailer. In doing so, Anderson regained control of the points lead, which he most recently held through the Englishtown and Epping races – both of which he won. His Summit Racing Camaro was just getting warmed up, and Anderson came to the semifinals and laid down a 6.594, 211.83 to easily send Chris McGaha and his slowing 8.841 packing.
Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the KB Racing team put together a winning package and sent Anderson to the 123rd final round of his career and seventh of the season, where he squared off with Drew Skillman – the driver he beat in the second round en route to the Epping win just three weeks earlier. Anderson was .022 at the tree to Skillman’s .026-second reaction time, and he kept the edge for a 6.592, 212.19 win to his opponent’s 6.594, 211.43. The margin of victory was just .006-second.
“We raced like we are capable of racing today, and I feel proud to be part of this Summit Racing team,” said Anderson. “We have a great group here with Rob Downing and Mike Edwards calling the shots on the cars and Jason and I driving. These are good times, and I’m having a ball with it. Pro Stock is a dogfight every week, and you feel fantastic at the end of the day if you can find a way to conquer it. If you can win your sponsor’s event, it doesn’t get any better than that. I just feel happy. I feel proud. It’s great to have the folks from Summit Racing here to share this with us. To have them here pulling for you, to come by and spend their time with you and cheer for you, I just can’t explain how much it means to us. It means the world, and that’s what got us to the winner’s circle today, without a doubt.”
Kalitta earned his 37th career victory by powering his Mac Tools dragster past defending event winner Antron Brown in the final round. Kalitta, also the event’s No. 1 qualifier, covered the distance in 3.823 seconds at 322.34 mph while Brown’s Matco Tools dragster lost traction and trailed with a 3.918 at 307.79.
“This is our hometown track and it was great having a lot of family and close friends here, so it doesn’t get much better than that,” said Kalitta, whose team is based in Ypsilanti, Mich. “Even my mom actually showed up. I think she’s only shown up one other time in my entire career. She watches it on TV quite a bit but doesn’t come too often. I’m going to have to tell her that she has to come out [again since] we won with her here.”
Kalitta used the good vibes from the home track advantage to race past Chris Karamesines, Steve Torrence and Clay Millican in earlier rounds. He moved to third in points with the victory. Runner-up Brown and semifinalist Tony Schumacher are first and second overall in the series standings.
“It was a great team effort today,” Kalitta said. “It’s tough to win out here and I’m glad we were able to pull it off today. You have to be on your game. It was a great weekend and the Bader family put on a heck of a show.”
In Funny Car, Beckman scored his third victory of the season by racing past Courtney Force in the final round. Beckman claimed his 18th career victory with a final round performance of 4.211 at 301.67 in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T, while Force’s Traxxas Chevy Camaro SS slowed near mid-track and finished in 4.609 at 199.64.
Beckman, the 2012 world champ, has fully emerged from a two-year slump where he didn’t win a race in 2013-14. With new crew chief Jimmy Prock on board he has also posted victories this season at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, N.C. and Topeka, Kan.
“This race was awesome for what we had to overcome and the fact that we beat all of the Force cars,” said Beckman, who ousted the 16-time champ John Force in the opening round and then beat Robert Hight and Tim Wilkerson before defeating Courtney in the final. “It was a fabulous win.”
It was Beckman’s second Norwalk win and he moves to third in the points standings. He said the win light against Ms. Force couldn’t have flashed any faster.
“We didn’t make a great run in the final,” Beckman said. “The interesting thing about a nitro Funny Car is that they are fast. At half-track, you think you’re in the fastest thing on the planet, but at that point, you can’t wait until the win light comes on. The finish line can’t come up fast enough.”
In only the third pro final round featuring a pair of female finalists in NHRA history, Stoffer defeated Angelle Sampey to take the Pro Stock Motorcycle win. Stoffer earned her second win of the season and eighth of her career on her Stoffer Enterprises Suzuki when Angelle Sampey fouled with a red-light start on her Star Racing Buell.
Stoffer, who was only planning to race a limited schedule this season, finds herself in second place in the points as the two-wheel category’s only multi-time winner this season, 45 back of series leader Eddie Krawiec.
“I certainly can’t imagine the way this season has gone,” said Stoffer, who defeated a trio of world champs – Matt Smith, Krawiec and LE Tonglet – to reach the final. “I’m still pinching myself, but we never planned how this season was going to go. I didn’t think I’d be here for a second. We just wanted to put our best foot forward, and to end up winning, that is icing on the cake.”
Her win over Sampey avenged the only other final round meeting between the two veteran riders. Sampey beat Stoffer at Reading, Pa. in 2002. The only other Mello Yello Series final to feature an all-female pairing happened in Top Fuel in 1982 when Shirley Muldowney defeated Lucille Lee in Columbus, Ohio.
“Racing Angelle in a final for the first time since 2002 was interesting,” Stoffer said. “We both struggled here, so we had to race a couple of times in qualifying. It was great to race her in the final. I would have liked to have seen two green lights, but we all live and die by the Tree in this class. We managed to get our tire hooked up, and we went down the track, so I think we’d have been in good shape no matter what.”
J&A Pro Mod Title to Janis
Mike Janis raced to his first victory of the season Sunday in the J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing at Summit Motorsports Park was presented by The Real Pro Mod Association.
Janis powered his supercharged Jan-Cen Racing late model Camaro to a final round performance of 5.902 seconds at 247.34 mph to hold off Ohio-native Troy Coughlin, who finished in 7.120 at 137.43 when his turbocharged JEGS.com Corvette encountered engine problems near mid-track.
“We ran consistent,” Janis said. “We ended up putting the Goodyear tires back on it. We’ve been going fast in qualifying, but then struggling first round on a hot race track. Now the Goodyear tires have put us back in the winner’s circle like the last three times. We’re pretty happy about that.”
To reach the final and take his fourth career victory and first at Norwalk, Janis defeated Clint Satterfield, Robert Patrick and Dan Stevenson. From the Buffalo, N.Y. area, Janis considers this his home track, so winning here was very special.
“It’s awesome to be here and to do this in front of (friends and family),” said Janis, who moves to third place in the points with the victory. “It’s better than winning Indy having everybody here cheering us on. You have no idea of the feeling going through us right now.”
It was defending event winner Coughlin’s second runner-up finish of the season and he moves into second place in the points standings. It was his third Norwalk final round appearance.
“We’re not sure what happened in the final, but runner-up’s not bad,” Coughlin said. “There’s only one other guy who wouldn’t want our spot, so we’ll take it.”
The J&A Service Pro Mod series now takes a significant mid-season break with the next stop on the schedule not being until Sept. 2-7 at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
The Lucas Oil Lowdown
Reigning NHRA Lucas Oil National Champion Chris Demke of Tujunga, Calif., earned his second national event win this season, and 17th career win overall, in Top Alcohol Dragster at the 9th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park. The California racer took the early lead and held on for the win, earning the trophy over Corey Michalek of Columbus, Ohio. Demke ran in the 5.30’s all weekend.
Joining Demke was Todd Veney, grabbing his first NHRA National event win in Top Alcohol Funny Car but did so in anticlimactic fashion as DJ Cox, Whiteford, Md., broke on the burnout handing over the trophy to Veney. Veney also suffered mechanical problems and coasted across the finish line. Veney qualified No. 3 and took out Jay Payne, Dan Pomponio and Paul Noakes on his way to his sixth career final. Veney also won last weekend at the Lucas Oil regional event at Lebanon Valley Dragway.
In Comp Eliminator it was Joe Santangelo, Marlborough, Conn., in his ’34 Chevrolet going 7.75 seconds at 168.87 mph taking the win over Steve Ambrose, Woodhaven, Mich., ’23 T-Ford, 7.704 seconds, 168.75 mph. Santangelo left first and held the lead to earn his 11th national win, and 3rd win in Comp Eliminator.
It was a close race in Super Stock with Rylee Stufflebeam earning the win by taking advantage at the start and finishing first over Brad Zaskowski by about six inches. This was the first national event win for Stufflebeam. In Super Gas, Ray Miller, Spring City, Tenn., with a holeshot, won his 3rd national event, this being his first win in Super Gas.
Rounding out the weekend’s winners was a trio of Ohio racers along with Billy Leber of New York. Leber beat out Dean Mc Ilvian, New Carlisle, Ohio, who left early with the red light foul start. Leading the Ohio charge was Aaron Allison, Macedonia, in Stock and Tim Weise, Cardington, in Top Sportsman as both drivers scored their first national event win. In Top Dragster, Ron Biondo, Macedonia, Ohio, was closest to his dial and scored the win defeating Joe Hessling, Toledo, Ohio.
Posted with files from: Joanne Knapp, Mandi Ramirez, NHRA Communications& Bruce Biegler
Photos by: Bruce Biegler – Steve Embling – Brennan Shortall
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